Former IDF soldier Anat Kam, who has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being convicted on an illegal possession of classified information, on Thursday sued the newspaper Ha’aretz, its reporter Uri Blau, and former news desk chief Avi Zilberberg, to the tune of 2.6 million shekel ($720 thousand).
Kam contends that she was exposed as the source of Blau’s information, leading to her arrest. In an unusual move, Kam asked the court to order the reporter to pay much of the money out of his own pocket, for his “special role in causing great injustice” to her, she said. The newspaper has not yet responded to the suit.
During her military service as a clerk in the office of the Central Command, Kam was exposed to “presentations and documents of various level of security classification,” including summaries of discussions, deployment of forces, investigations and status assessments. In advance of her discharge, she copied the documents to a CD that she took home. About a year after her discharge, she offered the documents to the military correspondent of Yediot Aharonot, Yossi Yehoshua, but in the end did not give away the material.
In October, 2008, the lawsuit relates, Kam met up with Blau, they chatted and discovered that they had attended the same high school. Blau offered Kam a ride to Jerusalem, where her parents live, and during the trip told her about his journalistic background and his own exposure to military matters.
“She had the impression that Blau was a serious and responsible journalist, and since it was clear to her that, in any case, his reports at Ha’aretz would be subject to military censorship restrictions,” she decided to hand over to him the CD containing the documents.
According to Kam, before delivering the CD to Blau, she demanded that he would never reveal where he obtained the documents, and that he tell no one at Ha’aretz that she was his source.
A few days later, Blau called her on his cellphone and told her he was excited about the material. The two had a few more discussions, until finally Blau published his story in November, 2008. The report incorporated photographs of two documents he had received from Kam. A few months later, another article appeared, incorporating another classified document.
On December 15, 2009, Kam’s world came crashing down, the lawsuit says, referring to the day when the GSS called her in for questioning.” Kam tried to contact Blau, but a mutual acquaintance said he was on a long trip abroad. At the GSS, her interrogators told her that they’re checking the leak to Blau. Kam confessed, and spent nearly two years under house arrest, with an “overseer.” She had to quit her job and could only leave her home to report at the police, or to visit a doctor. A year and a half ago, she was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, and three months ago the Supreme Court shortened her sentence by one year.
The lawsuit suggests that Ha’aretz was responsible for her exposure, since publishing the classified documents left only Kam, the clerk who handled those documents at Central Command, as the most logical suspect. It also argues that the chief military censor advised to Ha’aretz against publishing the actual documents, in order to shield their source.
In the end, according to the Kam lawsuit, the GSS was willing to give her immunity from charges on the documents which reporter Blau handed back to the military, so that, essentially, had he given back everything – she could have been spared much of her sentence.
Now she wants to make him pay.